Iraq’s embattled prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, is stepping down after eight years in office under pressure from his own party and the West amid mounting sectarian strife in his country.
Maliki will endorse a successor chosen by his own political bloc, Reuters reported Friday.
The Shia leader has been accused of worsening sectarian divisions and paving the way for a jihadist insurgency led by Isis, an offshoot of the Syrian civil war.
Maliki’s departure is expected to ramp up support from the United States for Haider al-Abadi, the longtime political ally chosen by the country’s political blocs to form the next government, the report said.
Washington has long pushed for Maliki’s replacement. It has been helping the Iraqi military take the lead in battling resurgent Islamic militants in the north.
Maliki agreed to step down after facing opposition for a third term from Iraq’s Kurds, Sunni and his own Shia political coalition and Dawa party.
On Monday, Abadi was designated premier by President Fouad Masoum. The announcement was quickly endorsed by both the US, Iran and Saudi Arabia, Iraq’s most important patrons and neighbours.
Abadi has less than a month to form his government.
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